In Psalm 96 (as well as at many other points in the bible) we are exhorted to:
“Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” Psalm 96:7
As I tried to spend some time meditating on that exhortation and asking myself the difference obedience in this area would make, I found myself confronted with the following questions and thoughts:
- What or who do I ascribe glory and strength to instead of the Lord?
- What are the clues that I am ascribing glory and strength where there is in fact neither glory nor strength?
- Is it fair to say that I am wrongly ascribing glory and/or strength to myself when… ..
- I don’t pray, but go on in my own strength?
- I am surprised by my failures or my weaknesses?
- Similarly is it fair to say that I am wrongly ascribing glory and/or strength to God’s enemies when…
- I doubt God’s ability to act?
- I feel despair and/or want to give up?
- and to say that I am wrongly ascribing glory and/or strength to idols when I
- run to them to nourish me and refresh me?
I share these queries and observations not to berate myself or to make you feel guilty, but rather to:
a) Help us explore what it is to ascribe greatness, glory and strength to God by seeing how we do it in other areas of our lives
b) Free us up to delight in ascribing to GOD the glory and strength that is his. To snap us out of the lies that trap us into falsely ascribing glory and strength elsewhere. Lies that leave us feeling empty and exhausted rather than enriched, emboldened and encouraged.
So let’s take a look at each of these foolish and damaging ascriptions of glory and strength one at a time and be delighted by the wisdom of ascribing to the Lord glory and strength and the joy and fruit that it could bring.
If I ascribe glory and strength to myself by “leaning on my own understanding” (see Proverbs 3:5-6), struggling on as if I can or should be able to do it on my own without any help…
Then the wonderfully releasing alternative is:
To ascribe glory and strength to the Lord by choosing ,as the first business of the day, to consciously, joyfully and thankfully shelter in him. To shelter in his love, his mercy and grace, his will, his wisdom, his glory and strength.
What peace and joy could flow from a waking conversation with my inner-self that ascribed glory and strength to the Lord! It is not that the day itself would be any easier in its challenge and content, in the messy relationships that awaited me, in my own inner battle with sin and the general broken-ness of life in this groaning world…..BUT my navigation of the day would be. Why? Because I would take myself out of the starring role and be free to be the treasured servant seeking to be faithful – even if it is a one foot in front of the other day. Indeed, navigation is so much easier when it simply involves following someone who knows where they are going!
Imagine a day in which we ascribed to the Lord glory and strength by automatically turning to him at any and every point of struggle or tricky-ness and at every point of joy and blessing. By our thankfulness and trust we would be ascribing to him glory and strength. By ascribing to the Lord glory and strength the burden of our failures would be lifted, and all the praise of our ‘successes’ would go to him.
“You take too much upon yourself” In my head it sounds like a line from an Austen novel. Although I may be thinking of Elizabeth Bennet declaring that she deserves neither so such praise nor such censure. In any case we do take too much upon ourselves daily. This is not only foolish and dangerously burdensome, it is also appallingly arrogant. In so doing I ascribe to myself what is due the Lord of the universe who so “preserves us that without his will not a hair will fall from our head, indeed that everything must work together for our salvation”.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be YOUR name, YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are YOURS now and for ever, Amen.
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!